Chicago Blackhawks 2022-23 Player Grades: Newcomers/Call-Ups

The Chicago Blackhawks had been among the many busiest groups all through the 2022-23 season. There had been many shifting elements by trades and call-ups all year long. Because it was a rebuilding season the place playoffs had been out of the equation from the beginning, head coach Luke Richardson needed to provide prospects as a lot of a glance as doable because it was the right time to take action with little stress and expectation. They additionally made eight trades on the NHL commerce deadline, so between call-ups from the Rockford IceHogs of the American Hockey League (AHL) and thru trades, there have been 10 new faces. Here is how the Blackhawks’ newcomers carried out this season.

1. Anders Bjork

2 Goals, 6 assists, 8 factors, plus-4 in 13 video games

Anders Bjork was one of the vital nice surprises this season. The Blackhawks acquired him from the Buffalo Sabers on the commerce deadline in March as he wanted a change of surroundings. He primarily performed within the AHL, however the 26-year-old had performed in a single NHL recreation in Buffalo this season earlier than getting dealt. He ended up becoming in with the Blackhawks immediately. He had three assists in his first two video games, however sadly suffered a lower-body harm on March 10 that stored him out of the lineup for seven video games. However, he completed the season sturdy with 5 factors in his final 5 video games.

Related: Blackhawks’ Anders Bjork Setting an Early Example for the Team

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Bjork hoped to re-establish himself within the NHL, and mission achieved. He match nice on the third line with Jason Dickinson and MacKenzie Entwistle, and he even developed good chemistry with defenseman Seth Jones as properly, as he assisted on three of Jones’ 12 targets this season. Bjork confirmed nice on-ice imaginative and prescient and elite defensive instincts. He was amongst solely two Blackhawks’ regulars with a “plus” on the plus/minus scale. Him being a plus-4 on a group with a minus-97 purpose differential is spectacular. Considering he confirmed offense and defensive promise, it wouldn’t be shocking if the Blackhawks opted to increase a qualifying provide and re-sign the restricted free agent (RFA).

Final Grade: B

2. Cole Guttman

4 targets, 2 assists, 6 factors, plus-1, 52.1% faceoff proportion (FO%) in 14 video games

When talking of the opposite participant, apart from Bjork that was a “plus” on the group, rookie Cole Guttman was the one. The rookie was recalled from Rockford in February after Jonathan Toews went on injured reserve (IR) with a COVID-related sickness. Granted, the call-up would have occurred in any case as a result of the 24-year-old was third-best on Rockford in goals (16) and fifth-best in factors (30) in 39 video games. The Blackhawks gave him a variety of duty proper out of the gate as they made him a second-line heart alongside Tyler Johnson and Taylor Raddysh towards the Toronto Maple Leafs for his NHL debut. He made an early impression as he scored his first NHL purpose in his third NHL recreation. His recreation model suits as a part of his identify, gutsy. He doesn’t play with concern and has an amazing, correct shot. He all the time gave the impression to be in the fitting place on the proper time.

Cole Guttman, Chicago Blackhawks (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

Guttman impressed the Blackhawks a lot that they determined to not place him on waivers to make him eligible for the AHL playoffs. It grew to become identified the explanation for that was as a result of he suffered a shoulder harm in November however performed by it till the team shut him down for the season in March for surgery. However, I imagine the Blackhawks would have made the identical choice even when he didn’t have an harm to permit him a whole offseason of coaching. He had three factors in his final three video games, even with a bum shoulder. Gusty. He was signed as a free agent final summer time, and now, it’s wanting like a house run, with him probably being a major depth scorer for them going into the long run. The group values him extremely.

Final Grade: A-

3. Mike Hardman

Zero Points, minus-2 in 8 video games

Mike Hardman has been with the Blackhawks’ group since 2021. He performed in 21 video games final season and recorded 21 factors. This season, he principally spent his time with the IceHogs, however the Blackhawks recalled him after Bjork obtained injured. He posted 16 factors in 49 video games in Rockford. With the Blackhawks, he didn’t present rather a lot on the fourth line, however he did present a superb blocking presence. He had three blocked photographs towards the Colorado Avalanche on March 20, which was essentially the most on the group. The Blackhawks misplaced the sport, 5-0, however that sort of selfless play will get you recognition out of your group. However, apart from performs like that, the offense was nonexistent. He performs the sport onerous, however believing he has a long-term future with the Blackhawks is difficult. He will seemingly be an IceHogs common subsequent season.

Final Grade: D

4. Brett Seney

1 purpose, 1 level, minus-2 in 7 video games

The Blackhawks recalled Brett Seney after they had been going by an harm spurt in January. The 27-year-old has been within the NHL since 2018, however within the final two years, he solely performed in 4 NHL video games and was principally within the AHL. However, this season, his manufacturing exploded. When recalled, he was the second-best scorer in Rockford with 38 factors in 32 video games. He was an AHL All-Star this 12 months as properly. He performed a bottom-six function, and has all the time been often known as a gritty, reliable ahead. The Blackhawks rewarded him with a one-year, two-way, $775,000 contract, which was properly deserved. There is nothing to complain about how he performed with the Blackhawks. He was advantageous within the restricted exhibiting he had.

Final Grade: C

5. Joey Anderson

4 targets, 2 assists, 6 factors, minus-9 in 24 video games

One of the hidden gem acquisitions this season got here from Joey Anderson. He was acquired as a part of the Jake McCabe and Sam Lafferty commerce to the Toronto Maple Leafs. He performed 14 NHL video games (three factors) with the Maple Leafs after which 24 with Chicago. He was one other one which appeared to suit proper in. He was primarily on the third/fourth line with Jujhar Khaira and Boris Katchouk, which grew to become one of many group’s greatest traces within the remaining two months. Anderson described himself as enjoying “straightforward hockey,” nothing fancy, but effective. From watching him, that’s an correct description.

Joey Anderson Chicago Blackhawks
Joey Anderson, Chicago Blackhawks (Photo by Melissa Tamez/Icon Sportswire through Getty Images)

Anderson skates properly and drives onerous to the online, and that’s a part of why that line was so profitable. The 24-year-old’s six factors had been essentially the most NHL factors he had seen since 2019-20, when he recorded six factors as a member of the New Jersey Devils. The Blackhawks made him eligible for Rockford’s Calder Cup Playoff run, and him being on the primary line with Lukas Reichel and Rocco Grimaldi is a giant increase for them. He is an RFA this summer time, and he’s somebody I feel the Blackhawks will re-sign as a continued depth piece since he did so properly in that function.

Final Grade: B-

6. Austin Wagner

1 purpose, 1 help, 2 factors, minus-2 in 7 video games

Austin Wagner could also be an unfamiliar identify on the roster as a result of his recent begin didn’t go in accordance with plan. The Blackhawks acquired him from the Los Angeles Kings on the commerce deadline, however he has spent the final two seasons with the Ontario Reign of the AHL. The group figured they might permit him to showcase his skills, but he had a hand infection, which stored him out of the lineup for 13 video games, and he in the end performed on the fourth line. I don’t suppose the group will re-sign him this summer time, however we’ll all the time have his beautiful goal against the Calgary Flames on April 4 that put the group up 4-2 within the third interval. If solely the 25-year-old had extra time to indicate extra of that.

Final Grade: D+

7. Buddy Robinson

1 purpose, 2 assists, 3 factors, plus-1 in 9 video games

No one needed to damage the Blackhawks’ “tank” greater than Buddy Robinson. He noticed three call-ups from Rockford this season. The 32-year-old veteran spent essentially the most NHL enjoying time with the Anaheim Ducks final season (32 video games), and he has supplied depth throughout his restricted stint with Chicago. Robinson had three factors in his remaining two video games of the season, resulting in a giant win towards the Pittsburgh Penguins on April 11. He performed on the second line with Anders Bjork and Andreas Athanasiou and appeared to have good chemistry. I might see the Blackhawks’ re-signing him to a two-way contract to maintain him in Rockford, however time will inform.

Final Grade: C+

8. David Gust

1 purpose, 1 level, minus-2 in 4 video games

Out of all of the newcomers, nobody had a feel-good story fairly like David Gust. He is a local of Orland Park, IL, and he spent the final 5 years within the AHL with no NHL call-ups, regardless of profitable the Calder Cup with the Chicago Wolves final season. He contemplated leaving the game entirely because of the lack of NHL alternatives however determined to provide it one other probability. During his first 12 months with the Blackhawks’ group, he hit career-best numbers in Rockford. When recalled in February, he was fourth-best in the AHL with 24 targets and was tied for eighth with 50 factors in 51 video games. He was additionally an AHL All-Star alongside Seney.

To make the story higher, throughout his NHL debut towards the San Jose Sharks on Feb. 25, he scored his first NHL purpose throughout his first shift, and it was his first shot of the sport whereas on the third line with Jason Dickinson and Colin Blackwell. The Blackhawks in the end rewarded him with a two-year, two-way, $1.525 million contract extension. He will seemingly spend extra time in Rockford subsequent season, however seeing the 29-year-old hometown child get one other crack on the Blackhawks’ lineup wouldn’t be shocking.

Final Grade: B

9. Luke Philp

1 help, 1 level in 3 video games

Luke Philp was one other feel-good story for the Blackhawks. When Tyler Johnson injured his ankle in January, Philp obtained his first NHL alternative. At the time, he was top-five on Rockford in factors (30) and targets (14) in 31 video games. So, Coach Richardson and firm felt he deserved a glance. The 27-year-old had spent the final three seasons within the AHL with the Flames group, however this was his first season with the Blackhawks. He performed on the third line and obtained his first NHL level in his second recreation towards the Flames, which was an help on Boris Katchouk’s purpose. Again, small pattern dimension, however he did properly for his first alternative.

Final Grade: C

10. Lukas Reichel

7 targets, 8 assists, 15 factors, minus-8 in 23 video games

Last however not least, the Blackhawks’ golden youngster, Lukas Reichel. Many had been upset he didn’t get a whole 12 months with the Blackhawks, regardless of extra growth in Rockford making essentially the most sense. But no hurt no foul, he nonetheless obtained an prolonged look with the group, and he was wonderful. He performed 11 video games final season however did look a bit timid, though the expertise was there. This season was a special story. He got here out of the sport in three totally different call-ups, wanting elite. He was much more assertive with the puck, was driving to the online virtually instantly, and impacted the rating sheet. He skates effortlessly, has wonderful offensive instincts, and he had a optimistic influence on his teammates.

Related: Blackhawks Sensible to Send Lukas Reichel to AHL

He obtained his first NHL purpose in his third recreation with the ‘Hawks this season. Reichel finished the regular season in Rockford with 51 points in 55 games and was an AHL All-Star alongside Gust and Seney. There is nothing to complain about with how he played. He was a top-line, impact player who showed significant strides, precisely what the team hoped to see.

Lukas Reichel Chicago Blackhawks
Lukas Reichel, Chicago Blackhawks (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

The only “con” is that management wants to see Reichel put on more weight to be stronger on the puck (he is 6-foot, 185 pounds). He worked on that last summer, and this summer will be the same. The 20-year-old’s season made followers enthusiastic about his potential. It’s unclear the place his precise ceiling is, however this season indicated he might be a strong top-six participant within the NHL. His 15 factors in 23 video games was a 53-point tempo in a daily 82-game setting, and he completed the season with eight factors in his final eight video games. Plus, he developed nice chemistry with Philipp Kurashev, who the group will seemingly re-sign over the summer time, making for a harmful future pairing. Whoever Reichel performs with subsequent season, he would be the one to observe. I initially gave him an “A-” grade on our latest Blackhawks Banter podcast, however I feel he’s larger than that.

Final Grade: A

The Blackhawks could have completed third-worst within the NHL, however they succeeded with their Rockford gamers and the gamers they acquired through commerce. Usually, solely a choose few stand out in a single season. That side contributed to them enjoying higher than anticipated, and it ought to give followers a variety of pleasure going into subsequent season.

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